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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal - everyone should own a copy
Recounting Thoreau's time spent in Walden woods, this text will force you to redefine your world view completely. It is a homage to the power of the self, emphasising what we can be if we were not tied down to external superfluities. In the consumer culture of the modern age, the book is made all the more powerful. The most important text I have ever read.
Published on 9 Dec. 1999 by pw

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wrote and died before his time arrived
Thoreau died, aged 44, in 1862. Walden: or, Life in the Woods, based on his experiment in subsistence living between 1845 and 1847, was one of only two books published in his lifetime. Neither was a commercial success. His `time' came later, and could plausibly be said to be still continuing. By the end of the nineteenth century a vast amount of his writing was in...
Published on 13 Jan. 2011 by Lost John


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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal - everyone should own a copy, 9 Dec. 1999
By 
pw (Liverpool, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Walden and Civil Disobedience: (American Library) (Paperback)
Recounting Thoreau's time spent in Walden woods, this text will force you to redefine your world view completely. It is a homage to the power of the self, emphasising what we can be if we were not tied down to external superfluities. In the consumer culture of the modern age, the book is made all the more powerful. The most important text I have ever read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wrote and died before his time arrived, 13 Jan. 2011
By 
Lost John (Devon, England) - See all my reviews
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Thoreau died, aged 44, in 1862. Walden: or, Life in the Woods, based on his experiment in subsistence living between 1845 and 1847, was one of only two books published in his lifetime. Neither was a commercial success. His `time' came later, and could plausibly be said to be still continuing. By the end of the nineteenth century a vast amount of his writing was in print, including much taken from the 39 notebooks of daily jottings that constituted his Journal. Each generation since has warmed to one or another facet of his writing - his philosophy, observation of nature, simple living, and refusal to pay taxes to a government that supported slavery and waged the Mexican-American War.

For purists, it is all too easy to pick holes. Thoreau's philosophy was far from rigorous in an academic sense; many of his observations from nature were not scientifically robust; building his log cabin only one and a half miles from his parents' home and continuing to buy essentials in Concord (he was on his way to the shoe-menders when arrested for non-payment of taxes), he cannot credibly be said to have cut himself off from society; and for his refusal to pay taxes he spent only one night in the local lock-up before an aunt paid his debt. But to pick holes would be to risk missing several important points. First and foremost, he did succeed in sustaining himself at a basic level for fully two years. His diet was essentially, though not exclusively, vegetarian; he drank only water; kept no pets or other livestock; and seems never to have even thought of acquiring and maintaining a family. In so doing, he successfully demonstrated that living in such a way demands only a very small cash income, so that it is not necessary to work anything like "full-time", thus releasing much time for walking, reading, contemplation and writing. He derived great personal satisfaction from that lifestyle and took particular pleasure in his cabin, built by his own hands.

The book is not an easy read and a measure of sympathy with the undertaking will be required to get most readers beyond the opening chapters. Even, then, all but the most enthusiastic would have to concede that the book is patchy. However, some of the best patches serve to make the whole worthwhile. Such a passage is a description of a hawk in flight found on page 210 of this edition ("On the 29th of April, as I was fishing from the bank near the Nine-Acre-Corner bridge..."). Incidentally, to get the absolute most out this passage, and the whole book, readers will need to know the length of a perch (as in rod, pole and perch, 40 to a furlong). It is sixteen and a half feet, or 5.08 metres.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars life in the woods, 14 Dec. 2008
By 
Mr. A. Peters - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Walden and Civil Disobedience: (American Library) (Paperback)
Up until the age of twenty one I was reading all soerts of random rubbish. Then I chanced upon 'Life in the woods',and that was it. It changed my life and my outlook completely, in so many ways. He taught me to open my eyes and 'see' nature. Powerful writing.

adam
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let us settle ourselves in freedom, 15 Dec. 2009
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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Walden is H. D. Thoreau's return to `wildness', but with a rucksack.
It is a protest against the existing civilized world, where men are `serfs of the soil with no time to be anything but a machine.' They act as `slave-drivers of themselves'. Why don't they live `as simply as I then did' with plenty of leisure time for `a written word, the choiciest of relics?'
Walden is a retreat from status, appearance and jealousy. As Jonathan Levin states in his excellent introduction: `Walden is written in defense of the value of the individual in the social / economic machinery.'

But, Thoreau's return to `wildness' is in no way a return to nature: `Nature is hard to overcome, but she must be overcome.' `The animal in us perhaps cannot be wholly expelled. We are yet not pure.'
Thoreau's motto is: `A command over our passions and over the external senses of the body is declared by the Ved to be indispensable in the mind's approximation to God. Chastity is the flowering of men.' (!)
His dream of personal freedom and individual autarchy (`drink water from the pond') is in today's environment totally impossible. More, Thoreau contradicts himself by stating:' if we know all the laws of Nature, we should need only one fact, or the description of one actual phenomenon, to infer all the particular results at that point.' This is not less than plain determinism.

Civil Disobedience
This short pamphlet translates perfectly the US dream of uninhibited freedom: `that government is best which governs not at all'. But, Thoreau clearly understands that `no government' is not a possibility, only a `better government'.
His civil disobedience (not paying taxes) is a protest against a government whose policies are illegal and immoral: `to hold slaves, and to make war on Mexico.'
More, it oppresses its own population: `There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived.'

Henry David Thoreau's impossible `wildness' dream with all its contradictions as well as his highly relevant `Civil Disobedience' message remain a classic in US and Western literature.
Not to be missed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A 'must have' book, 24 May 2015
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This review is from: Walden and Civil Disobedience: (American Library) (Paperback)
Bought for my teenage son to provide another take on rebelliousness
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 12 Oct. 2014
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Excellent product that does just what I need.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, 10 Aug. 2014
By 
D. Mackie (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Walden and Civil Disobedience: (American Library) (Paperback)
Great read......
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Expectations !!!, 3 Nov. 2012
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Purchased this book to be sent over to Australia. I was on a very tight timescale as my daughter was home for a holiday and was taking book back as a gift.

Needless to say book arrived the next day .We were both delighted and I know the recipient was delighted too.
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Walden and Civil Disobedience: (American Library)
Walden and Civil Disobedience: (American Library) by Michael Meyer (Paperback - 22 Nov. 2002)
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